Aviation accident investigators in Switzerland have said that the crash of a Pacific Aerospace P-750 utility aircraft last month was likely caused by the unintentional opening of a skydiver’s parachute while he was still in the aircraft.

In a preliminary report published on 12 March, the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) said the aircraft, belonging to Skydive Grenchen, was carrying 11 jumpers and one pilot on the afternoon of 18 February. While all jumpers, one of whom was slightly injured in the incident, exited the aircraft, the pilot died in the crash.

HB-TCP-c-Skydive Grenchen

Source: Skydive Grenchen

Swiss aviation accident authorities say the “unintentional opening” of a parachute caused the crash and loss of a Pacific Aerospace P-750 that was used as a skydive aircraft

“When parachutists were being dropped off, the reserve parachute belonging to a parachutist who was still on the aircraft unintentionally opened,” the STSB says. “The parachutist subsequently collided with the elevator tailplane, causing it to be completely torn off the aircraft and the plane crashed.”

“The pilot was not wearing a rescue parachute,” it adds.

The aircraft (HB-TCP) had been operating in the vicinity of Grenchen airport, about 25km north of Bern. It appeared to have entered a rapid descent from around 13,000ft just after 14:00 local time. A distress call was transmitted, according to air-ground transmissions captured by LiveATC. Weather at the time was fair, with good visibility and scatterd clouds.


Source: Solothurn Canton Police

The aircraft (HB-TCP) crashed on 18 February in a field near Grenchen airfield just after 11 skydivers had exited

The P-750 was Skydive Grenchen’s only aircraft, and the club said it would support the inquiry in order to understand the circumstances.

”As happy as we are that all 11 jumpers on board were able to leave the aircraft and land safely on the ground, it breaks our hearts to have lost a long-time, close friend and comrade in pilot Christian Schrepfer,” the company writes on its website.

According to Cirium fleets data the aircraft, powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A engine, was delivered to the skydiving club in February 2012.